Emma's Weekly Advice Column
30 march 2009
Three ways to source new work
This is a perfect time to spruce up your business development and pursue opportunities that will mean new work from existing customers and new work from new customers. Here’s three things you can do to keep the contracts coming in.
More work for existing customers
Make contact - start with your existing customers by contacting them to check they are happy with your service and products. Offer to conduct a review of their requirements and ask if there is anything more you can be doing for them. Do they expect their needs to change over the next 6 months and are there new ideas you can take to them that will mean an improved service for them and new business for you? You can find out all this – and more – through scheduled catch-up calls with your most long-standing customers.
Refer a Friend – develop a promotion that invites customers to refer their friends and family to you. Can you offer a discount or incentive to make this happen?
New work for new customers
It’s more expensive to attract new customers but they cannot be ignored – there could be a whole new marketplace out there, waiting for you to arrive!
New markets – have you ever thought about selling to the public sector? It’s a sector that’s still spending and the criteria to apply for projects are not as onerous as you might think. There is a useful feature on this topic here [link to http://www.enterprisenation.com/detail/How_and_why_to_tender_for_public_sector_contracts/2622/1.aspx] that refers to sites where you can search for contracts and tenders – they are www.supply2.gov.uk and www.competefor.com
New products – partner with other companies to offer a new range or bundle of products and services. If you are a web designer, how about partnering up with a print designer so you can offer an online and offline service. You reap the benefits of doubling up on business development effort and the client wins as they receive a full and complete service.
New work for all customers
An effective way to generate new sales leads – and goodwill – is to bring your customers together and make introductions. Bonding your customers to each other at an event or gathering will bond them ever closer to you. Everyone wins; you secure new work and deeper relationships and your customers have the opportunity to do their own bit of business development too!
23 march 2009
Working away from home
New technology means it’s possible to work wherever you want. You’ve already decided you want to work for yourself and away from the traditional office, but now – with a few simple tips and tricks – you can enjoy unprecedented flexibility, and work almost anywhere, from your local coffee shop to the public park.
With your computer
If you already have a fairly up-to-date laptop computer, you have all you really need to work away from home. Most can pick up wireless Internet access from receivers already built-in. But if you have a slightly older laptop, buy a small adaptor which you plug into a spare USB port. Affordable options are available from a company called Belkin [www.belkin.com/uk] who provide pretty clear instructions to help you get started.
If WiFi hotspots are few and far between, you can now get on the Internet practically anywhere, with a USB dongle. It looks like a flash thumbdrive and allows your laptop to connect to broadband speed-Internet from a mobile phone provider.
Wi-Fi hotspots are usually free of charge in places like public libraries and independent coffee shops, where owners encourage you to use their hotspots to boost sales. If you’re looking fro out of home working locations in your area, check out myHotspots myhotspots.co.uk
With your mobile or smart phone
A Blackberry [http://eu.blackberry.com/eng ] is a smart phone and one of the most popular devices for working away from the home office. It allows you to surf the web, check your e-mail and edit office documents.
Most mobile phones allow you to check email on the move, but it's best to check with your service provider before giving it a go. Unless included in your contract, checking email or surfing the web on your mobile phone can be quite expensive.
If you use web mail, from Google for example, or Yahoo!, it's easy to check your email as there are mobile ready versions of their websites, which you can view on your mobile phone's web browser.
Yahoo! Mobile [ http://uk.mobile.yahoo.com]
Google Mobile http://www.google.com/mobile/]
Mobile broadband is great if you're often on the move or use your laptop in a variety of locations, but it can be pricey. Look around for unlimited packages and those that provide the hardware for free.
A forwarding number
Skype www.skype.com, offers a call forwarding feature, which allows you to direct incoming calls to your Skype account or Skype phone number to your mobile phone. Depending on your package you can forward calls at no extra cost and it's easy to set up.
Taking these steps will free you up to work from anywhere and, with the sun starting to shine, why not head into the garden to take on the inbox!